My heart has been broken these past two weeks. Daily I lament the tragedy in Charleston and subsequent demonstrations of racism (e.g. the church fires in the south http://www.worldmag.com/2015/06/church_fires_in_the_south_recall_past_violence ). This is sin. Each and every person has equal value and dignity, no matter his or her background, race, age, or culture. Every act of racism is in reality a hate-driven action against the God of the Nations who created all people in His image. “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
My grief grows the more I reflect on these recent events, for as a pastor I know these atrocities are not far-off occurrences, having no real bearing on our community. Instead, these are painful reminders to me of the racism close to all of us. Though it has not manifested to national news, I grieve, knowing from personal experience here in Faribault that racism is rooted deep here too. I’ve heard the pejorative terms. I’ve seen the manipulative ways dominance is demonstrated. I’ve consoled the children who have run in fear from dogs unleashed upon them because of their race.
Friend, are you willing to see the reality of the depth of racism that still affects our nation and community? If so, will you join me in lamenting these atrocities that have occurred and still occur due to racism? To lament is to cry out to God. Cry out to Him for justice. Pray for conviction. Pray for repentance. Pray for reconciliation. “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
As you pray, will you also examine yourself, before the Word of God, asking God to reveal any prejudice hidden in your heart? This is difficult. It is much easier to ignore sin or to point fingers at others rather than admit our own depravity. Let each one of us humbly pray that God would search us, revealing if there is any grievous prejudice in our hearts. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24)!
If you have lamented and confessed, I would encourage you now to act for justice in Faribault and this nation. What are areas of oppression and discrimination that you can speak into? Where does the light of the gospel need to be shined: In your class at school? Online? With your neighbor? At a public meeting? In your group of friends? To whom do you need to extend a hand to, inviting them into a relationship with you because Christ has called you to the ministry of reconciliation? “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
My prayer is that our church – brothers and sisters in Christ brought together in fellowship with the living God and one another through the blood of Jesus – would visibly proclaim the peace-giving power of Jesus, as people from every tribe and tongue gather together in worship. God’s Word says that when that happens, it will be heavenly news of the gospel of work (Ephesians 3:10)!
Broken and hopeful,
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:8–10).